Hello, folks. I hope your Monday has been fantastic, or at least good, or at least managable. You're trying your best.
Today, I want to talk about baseball. Kinda. Baseball is the metaphor. Except that isn't quite right because it is literally about baseball too. Baseball is the symbol, I suppose. Anyway...
Last week, the MLB All-Star Game, and perhaps even more significantly, the Homerun Derby, happened. I could not tell you who won any of it. For all I know it could be the year 2000 again and Sammy Sosa is taking home the trophy. I could not tell you a single starting player's name. I do not watch much baseball anymore.
Now, that doesn't sound like that big of a deal. And really, it isn't. But a lot of my fondest memories come from baseball. And I am probably playing too into the whole "America's Pasttime" romanticization of the game thing, but it's true. There are baseball memories I want to hold onto, even if I haven't clung too tightly to the sport. Little league games, trading Topps trading cards at recess, watching Cubs games at my grandmother's house after school, wiffle ball games in friends' yards, Wrigley Field with my dad and brother, watching the Home Run Derby on a summer night.
And so I am not necessarily devastated to not be able to tell you who hit the most home runs last week. But there is a tiny bit of melancholy for the slightly younger version of myself, who would have cared to have known. I suppose that is how these things go. We cycle through various versions of ourselves, grieving or making peace with the past selves we leave behind, or maybe, set aside for later.
I thought about the homerun derby while sitting by the lake this past Thursday. I thought about these cycles–what stays the same, what changes. And again, I thought of the endlessly unique repeated lives of nature. This lake has been thousands of things to thousands of people; these trees have lived decades upon decades and every single one meant something different to each of the thousands of visitors it has had.
As our relationship with ourselves change, our relationship with nature changes. As I find myself letting go, at least partially, of the part of me that watches homerun derbies, I find myself still holding onto the memories of it I have. I think it is important to do both of those things. As I say goodbye to a past self I find myself more in the present, more with nature. As I hold the memories of past selves close and warm, I can let myself learn from my surroundings.
Here is a poem about all that stuff I just said:
I did not watch/the homerun derby this year/ I didn't recognize/ any of the contestants' names/ A childhood love now/ a splintered, discarded slugger///I haven't been by the Mississipp/ in a few years/ The waters flow, the bluffs tower/ with or without my presence/// I've been to the movies/ 3 times in as many years/ the 10,000th MCU movie will make millions/ with or without my attendance///I am still calmed by the water/of storms, of lakes, of rivers/I still feel cattail prickles/when I clench my fist///I used to sing/of mangled stardust, of palpitations, of our electricity/There are wildflowers in my throat now/pinks and purples, violets and screaming reds/I am scared to taste/the way they sound